The Tao of NGU NGI

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have The Wild Rose Press author Peggy Jaeger sharing the rich and varied experiences of her first act and her emerging second act.

Here’s Peggy!

peggy jaegarWhen I discovered Joanne’s SECOND ACTS blog, I felt like I’d walked into a virtual room decorated just for me. Reading through the entries of the wonderful and artistic women she’d spotlighted made me a little nervous about what I could add to this glorious mix of wisdom, guts, tenacity and talent. For days I thought about what I should write. What could I possibly impart to the readers and writers to inspire them during the next phase of their lives – be it a writing life or one in general.

It came to me – like many ideas do – in a dream.

A little backstory about my Act 1, first.

I was an only child of divorced parents who didn’t like being on the same planet together, much less in the same room. They split when I was an infant. Like many children of divorce, I shrouded myself from hurt with a very busy fantasy life. When the harsh reality of my divorced world became too much to deal with, I would slip into my room and write. And write and write and write.

Pure escapism and very cheap therapy.

My adolescence wasn’t much better. I was obese, shy, the class “brain,” and teacher’s pet. My one way of avoiding a trip to the dark side of teenage angst? Writing.

In college I found my voice, my love of caring for people, and my true self. I worked for several years as a Nurse and was lucky enough to incorporate my profession into my writing life. I had many nursing articles published in professional trade magazines. I completed my Master’s Degree in Nursing, got married, had a kid and continued to write everyday I could.

I like to joke that during my 30’s and 40’s I was a wife, mother, nurse, cook, chauffeur, nanny, contact lens technician and business owner. And most of all, writer.

While banging out the magazine articles on motherhood, empty nest syndrome and ophthalmic care, I was also secretly writing fiction. I say secretly because I never – ever – showed those works to anyone, including my husband. Fiction writing – particularly romantic fiction – was my secret candy stash: my one guilty pleasure. Since I’d read my fist Nora Roberts book I’d had a secret ambition to be a romance novelist. I was twenty at the time when I penned my first romance story. Suffice it to say it was awful and leave it there.

But I never gave up on my dream to write romance and have it published.

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So enough backstory. Here’s the present day 411.

When I was deciding what to write for this posting I had a dream about a phrase I developed during a particularly rough patch of my life. I used to repeat the phrase numerous times during the day just to keep me sane and focused. That phrase I laughingly call THE TAO OF NGU NGI (pronounced na-goo na-guy). It stands for Never Give Up, Never Give In. When all looked bleak and times were shaky, the Tao pushed me through to the other side and helped me come out stronger, more able, and a victor.

As I enter this next phase of my life there are many changes coming. Fast! I retire in April from a job I have held for over 15 years. I will be having 2 books published in 2015 by the Wild Rose Press and have 3 more in line for the continuation of the series, and three more in development. I will be eligible to get an AARP card ( if I want one). All because I vowed to never give up on my dream of being a published author, and to never give in to all the voices and advice of people who told me at various times that I was : too old, not a good enough writer, too verbose, writing popular pap and not real literature, and ( my favorite) no one wanted to read a romance by a woman over the age of 50.

God puts dreams in our hearts for a reason. It is our duty and responsibility to see that those dreams come to fruition. One of my favorite quotes is “every set back is a set-up for something new and exciting.” Don’t give up on your dreams. Ever. Practice the Tao of NGU NGI and doors and opportunities will open for you. My best advice to anyone pursing a dream is just this: never give up on it. It may take 5 minutes, 5 years, or a generation to fulfill, but I truly feel you are never too old, and no dream is ever too big, to pursue.

I know this firsthand.

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Blurb

I know this firsthand.Figure skater Tiffany Lennox is busy with rehearsals for an upcoming ice show when the only man she’s ever loved comes home after a two-year overseas stint. She needs him to see her for the woman she’s become and not the child he knew to ensure he stays home, this time, for good. With her.

I know this firsthand.For all his wanderlust and hunger for professional success, Cole Greer comes home wanting nothing more than to rest, relax and recover. He is delighted in being Tiffany’s hero and has a special place in his heart reserved for her. But faced with the oh-so-desirable woman she’s become, he starts questioning his determination to keep their relationship platonic.

I know this firsthand.When forced by the television network to go back on assignment, Cole – for the first time in his life – is torn between his career and his heart.

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook | The Wild Rose Press

Bio

Peggy Jaeger’s love of writing began in the third grade when she won her first writing contest with a short story titled THE CLOWN. After that, there was no stopping her. Throughout college and after she became a Registered Nurse, she had several Nursing Journal articles published, in addition to many mystery short stories in Literary Magazines. When her daughter was born, Peggy had an article titled THE VOICES OF ANGELS published and reprinted in several parenting magazines, detailing the birth and the accident that almost turned this wonderful event into a tragedy. She had two children’s books published in 1995 titled THE KINDNESS TALES and EMILY AND THE EASTER EGGS, which was illustrated by her artist Mother-in-Law. While her daughter grew, Peggy would write age appropriate stories for her to read along with, and finally, to read on her own. Her YA stories are usually mysteries involving smart and funny 12-13 year old girls and an unusual collection of friends and relatives. They all take place in the 1980’s.

In 2005 she was thrilled to have an article on motherhood placed in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR VERY MOTHER’S SOUL edition. She has won several awards in various Writer’s Digest short story and personal article categories over the years. Recently, she has placed first in the Dixie Kane 2013 Memorial Contest in the Short/Long Contemporary romance Category, and in the Single Title Contemporary Category, and third place in the ICO Romance Contest for 2013.

A life-long and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Peggy has embraced the techno age and writes for three blogs, all detailing events in her life. One titled, 50 pounds for 50 years is a personal blog about weight loss, one about her life as an EMPTY NESTER and her most recent one MOMENTS FROM MENOPAUSE, a humorous and informative guide through this time in a woman’s life.

Her first romance novel, SKATER’S WALTZ will be released on March 4, 2015 from the Wild Rose Press.

Where to find Peggy…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Joanne here!

Peggy, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. You are an excellent role model for reinvention (at any age). BTW…I have decided to embrace NGU NGI as my mantra.

From Prisons to PR

I am happy to feature The Wild Rose Press author Marilyn Baron and her new release, The Widows’ Gallery.

Here’s Marilyn!

marilynbaronpixI’ve always wanted to be a writer from the time I read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wrote my first poem at age 11 that was published in Highlights, the magazine you see at the dentist office. My first “book,” East West Island, featured all the children in my third-grade class, and my teacher read it in installments every day. I directed my first play at age 13, starring my brother and sisters and some of the neighborhood kids to raise money for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. I wrote the scripts for the school assembly programs and served as editor and feature editor of my junior high school and high school newspapers. Although my father encouraged me to major in elementary education, because he thought you couldn’t make a living as a writer, I majored in Journalism (Public Relations) and English (Creative Writing) in college and pursued a satisfying corporate career with AT&T in Public Relations. I did a one-year stint in the Florida State prison system (Translation: I was an information specialist at the Florida Department of Offender Rehabilitation) and then quit to run my own public relations firm. But I’ve always wanted to write fiction.

I pursued that dream in earnest when I joined Georgia Romance Writers, where I got my start with craft workshops, conferences and the camaraderie and support of fellow writers. I volunteered for such jobs as on-line newsletter editor and handling publicity for the chapter’s annual Moonlight & Magnolias conference. My road to publication has been a long one—more than 10 years. Along the way I’ve won four writing awards, published seven books with The Wild Rose Press, with two other books coming soon; five humorous paranormal short stories; and self-published two books and a musical called Memory Lane about Alzheimer’s with my sister.

My first publishing experience was writing short stories with TWB Press, a small publisher of science fiction, supernatural, horror and urban fantasy and thrillers. My fifth short story, The Files Death Forgot, was released by TWB Press February 15. Then my first full-length novel, Under the Moon Gate, a historical romantic thriller set in modern day and WW II Bermuda, was contracted by The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). At the time no one seemed to want books set in World War II but that was my favorite period in history and Bermuda was one of my favorite places to visit so I never gave up on it. My editor loved it and I found a home.

I’ve been writing for TWRP ever since.

I don’t have an agent yet so I was thinking of dedicating my next book “To the Agent I Never Had.”

Unlike many writers, I don’t stick with one genre. I’ve written women’s fiction (coming-of-middle-age novels); historical romantic thrillers; a psychic suspense series; fantasy; and my latest novel released February 11 is a women’s fiction with four romances, called The Widows’ Gallery. I enjoy the diversity, but all my books and stories have one thing in common. They all use humor to tell the story. And they all have a happy ending.

I like to use art as a theme because I studied Art History in Florence, Italy, where I spent six months in college. In fact The Widows’ Gallery is partially set there. I frequently set my books in places I’ve traveled to and, like a sponge, I put to use a lot of what I see and hear. Every time my sister calls me she prefaces her remarks with, “Now, don’t use this in a book.”

The best piece of advice I’ve learned from interviewing such bestselling authors as Daniel Silva, Steve Berry and Janet Evanovich is, “Finish the book.” Their rationale is you can always correct a bad manuscript but you can’t correct a blank page.

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Blurb

Childless heiress Abigail Adams Longley and three other widows on a Mediterranean cruise bond over a Renaissance masterpiece in Florence, Italy, and find love, friendship and joy in their joint venture to open an art gallery at the Longley mansion in Lobster Cove, Maine.

Since the death of her husband, Abigail has been lonely and drifting in a house that’s too big and a town that’s too small. When she literally runs into sexy widower and whale-watching excursion captain Tack Garrity on the dock, she’s entranced by his adorable five-year-old daughter.

But will Tack, who has harbored a secret crush on Abigail for almost two decades, be able to capture her heart? A secret pact her husband made with Tack could either tear them apart or bring them closer together and change their lives forever.

Excerpt

Abigail Adams Longley looked around at the three women flanking her in Hall 10/14 of the Uffizi Gallery. They were all staring at The Birth of Venus like wide-eyed art students. Admittedly, the painting was as compelling as when the Medici family originally commissioned the tempera on canvas in the fifteenth century. But for Abigail, seeing the painting again wasn’t cathartic. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t the feeling she was going for. Peace. Why couldn’t she get some goddamned peace in this life?

Abigail glanced at the square-cut, four-carat diamond on her finger, gazed at the sparkle of the ring she hadn’t removed since the day Louis had proposed. And now, a whole year after his death, she still hadn’t taken it off. Conventional wisdom dictated that you weren’t supposed to make any major life decisions until a year after a spouse’s death. Well, it had been a year already, and she hadn’t wanted to make even one decision—major or minor—about where to live, where to go, or what to do. Whoever said money can’t buy happiness had devised another dead-on axiom. She had all the money in the world—in fact Louis had left her a big chunk of the globe. He’d left her set for life, monetarily. But she would have traded every cent for the chance to be with him again. Louis was gone, and the sooner she faced the fact that she was alone on this planet, the better off she’d be.

Buy Links

Amazon (EBook) | Amazon (Paperback) | The Wild Rose Press | AllRomanceeBooks

Bio

Marilyn Baron is a corporate public relations consultant in Atlanta. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), recipient of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award and winner or finalist in writing awards in single title, suspense romance, novel with strong romantic elements and paranormal romance.

Marilyn writes in a variety of genres, including: Humorous women’s fiction (The Widows’ Gallery, Stones, and Significant Others; a psychic suspense series (Sixth Sense, Homecoming Homicides and the soon to be released Killer Cruise); and historical romantic thrillers (Under the Moon Gate and the prequel, Destiny: A Bermuda Love Story) for The Wild Rose Press; and humorous paranormal short stories for TWB Press (A Choir of Angels, Follow an Angel, The Stand-In Bridegroom, Dead Mix and The Files Death Forgot).

Marilyn is a member of the Roswell Reads Steering Committee and belongs to two book clubs. A native of Miami, Florida, Marilyn now lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband and they have two daughters. She graduated from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism [Public Relations sequence] and a minor in Creative Writing.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, going to movies, eating Italian food and traveling. She often sets her stories in places she’s visited, including Bermuda, Australia and Italy, where she spent six months studying in Florence during her senior year in college.

Where to find Marilyn…

Website | Savvy Authors (22nd of each month) | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

If Not Now, When?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have social media/digital marketing consultant Lucille Fisher sharing her journey and extraordinary calling.

Here’s Lucille!

lucillefisherA friend and meditation teacher often asked, “If not now, when?” Three years ago, this became my mantra.

By choice, I deferred my marketing career to bring up my two children. I took jobs that allowed me to be available to them but did not provide for my longed for creative stimulation or challenge. I tried to exercise my marketing and sales abilities by incorporating them into these jobs and through volunteer work but ultimately, especially when my children went off to college, I was left empty. Dreams of a fulfilling career nagged at me.

About six years ago, I became fascinated with social media marketing and anxious to learn everything I could about it. As I learned about the strategies, best practices, and power of social media, I would share this knowledge with my friends, many of whom owned their own businesses. Often they would say, “You have to teach me that.” It dawned on me that there was a real need for a savvy social media consultant who understood how baby boomers learn. This was a need I could fill. I had the formal education, the know-how, and the desire but I had to confront my fear of failure and the voice in my head that said, “You are crazy to be taking on building a consulting business post fifty.”

Inspirational quotes that I clung to during those moments were:

When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there were doors…and the world will step in and help.” Joseph Campbell

You must do the things you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Leap and the net will appear. Zen Saying

The final event that propelled me to leave my job and consult full time was when one of my friends quit her lucrative position at 50 years old to write a book and follow her passion. I said to myself: “So I am over 50, I can do it too.” And I did.

Today, I am a social media/digital marketing consultant and am always learning new things. My mission is to take that knowledge and empower my fellow baby boomer business owners to understand and utilize social media marketing in their businesses. Thus the logo for my business, Sage and Savvy Marketing, is a bridge and my tagline, “Your Bridge to the Social Media and Digital World.”

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Consulting comprises so many different elements: problem solving, creative thinking, and facilitating change. Every day offers new and exciting opportunities to propel my clients and their businesses forward. I feel honored to witness my clients “Aha” moments.

My advice to anyone planning to pursue a second act is to not allow fear to win out. YOU CAN DO IT! The universe is waiting for you to “show up” and it’s never too late to pursue a dream. Ask yourself “If not now, when?”

Where to find Lucille…

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+

Joanne here!

Lucille, thanks for an inspiring and motivating post. BTW…I’ll be using your mantra!

With Hope, the Odds Don’t Matter

Last week, Heather Von St. James asked me to share her story on my blog and help build hope and awareness for her campaign.

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Heather’s story…

At the age of thirty-six, Heather’s life was an idyllic one. Three months earlier, she had given birth to a beautiful daughter, Lily Rose. Heather did not expect to receive a life-altering diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma at a routine checkup.

What is pleural mesothelioma?

It is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelioma, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Find out more information here.

Heather’s doctor informed her she had only fifteen months to live.

After the initial shock subsided, Heather and her husband Cameron embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Their search led them to the Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women’s hospital. Dr. Sugarbaker recommended a new surgical procedure that had several risks but also carried the promise for the best outcome. With the support of her husband and family, Heather agreed to have the surgery.

Today, Heather is a ten-year mesothelioma cancer survivor with a mission. Determined to provided hope and inspiration to mesothelioma patients, Heather shares her story as keynote speaker at conferences and through social media forums. And she celebrates Lung Leaving Day.

What is Lung Leaving Day?

Heather and her sister decided to commemorate her journey with a special ceremony. Each year, on February 2nd, the two sisters encourage people around the world to write their biggest fears on a plate and smash the plate into a fire. A beautiful and powerful symbol of taking control and overcoming your fears.

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Heather’s trailer


Heather’s journey reminded me of the following poem by Sri Chinmoy…

Hope
Knows no fear.

Hope dares to blossom
Even inside the abysmal abyss.

Hope secretly feeds
And strengthens
Promise.

Where to find Heather…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

You Never Know Where Your Words Will Take You!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have physician and author Linda O’Connor sharing the back story behind this unique skill set and introducing her debut novel Perfectly Honest.

Here’s Linda!

lindaoconnorJoanne, thank you very much for having me today! The curtain hasn’t completely gone down on my first act – it’s still a big part of who I am – but I’m definitely well into my second act.

I’m a physician and I’ve worked in a variety of clinical settings – my own practice, with university student health clinics, teaching clinical skills to medical students, and at a walk-in clinic/urgent care center. I still work part-time, but I’d say the real first act was raising my three sons.

I can’t imagine starting to write at a younger age. Parenting took quite a bit of time and energy. I attended parenting workshops, group music lessons, mom and tot gymnastics and skating, library programs, and play groups. I did a lot of reading around various topics – raising boys, discipline, healthy eating – there was a lot to learn. It was a huge investment of time, but I think it’s paid off, as I’m extremely proud of the young men I’ve raised (well it wasn’t all me, my husband deserves some credit too).

Now that my sons have grown, I have time to invest in writing. Now I take online Romance Writers of America workshops, hang out electronically with other writers, enjoy monthly book club meetings, and read a lot in various genres – there’s still a lot to learn. But I’m loving it!

Interestingly, I never thought I’d be a writer. A professor told me that I had no command of the English language (hence the need for all the workshops so maybe he was right ) But as a physician, I thought there was a need to disseminate basic medical information – like recognizing mental health symptoms, birth control myths, and basic preventative health care – in new and innovative ways. It seemed to me that patients were visiting their doctors less often for preventative health care and more often with diseases requiring significant lifestyle changes. It would be a lot easier on them if they understood the consequences before poor lifestyle habits became ingrained. I had the idea to share the information in a romance novel, weaving it in the story and incorporating it into the activities I do on social media and through the book promotion.

Pursuing a second act has been tremendously rewarding. I wouldn’t have embraced social media as I have (I have a YouTube channel and uploaded a video MYSELF ). I’ve caught up with high school friends – that’s been fun. I have something new and exciting to talk about every day. I love learning, and am surprised at how much I enjoy writing. I’m extremely lucky that I can write simply because I love it. I think that should be part of the second act – Life’s short – so do what you love.

If someone is thinking of pursuing a second act, I would say go for it! It’s easier than ever before with online information, free workshops in the community, and Google. Plus you know, exercising your brain keeps you young! (I’m back to 39 now.)

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Blurb

You never know where your words will take you…

When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s ‘fiancée’ for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor.

Sam O’Brien, aka ‘Dr. Eye Candy’, is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his ‘fiancée’ helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his ‘fiancée’ ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted.

Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!



Bio

I’ve been writing romance novels for three years and sincerely thank Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing for the ultimate encouragement to my writing – with the leap to publishing. I have many titles including Doctor, Mom, and proud Canadian, but “Linda O’Connor – hereinafter called the Author” on the SMP contract was one of the sweetest.

Contemporary romantic comedies are my favorite novels to read and write. I balance writing with my work as a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic and being a mom to three sons (luckily grown and capable of throwing together a decent meal, in a pinch). I also like to keep active and cycle, cross-country ski, skate, walk with my husband, or dance every day.

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Where to find Linda…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Canada | Amazon U.S.

Joanne here!

Wow! I’m in awe of your work ethic and ability to balance your professional, creative and personal lives. I enjoyed reading Perfectly Honest and look forward to the next book in the series.

On the Eve of Groundhog Day

26852382_sEach year, I join in the fun and anticipation surrounding Groundhog Day, hoping Wiarton Willie (Ontario’s groundhog) will predict an early spring. A feeling that is shared by millions of Canadians and Americans who are also focusing on their respective groundhogs, among them Punxsutawney Phil, Shubenacadie Sam, Balzac Billy and Buckeye Chuck.

This year, however, I have a different perspective on Groundhog Day. Several days ago, I came across the following post in Editor Bob’s newsletter.

From Editor Bob…

In NYC, we crave for the luminous skies and warm weather which are still months away. I am recovering from the cabin fever. All is frozen outside but certainly not my heart.

As a curious explorer in school, I used to enjoy weather forecasting by observing the activity of a groundhog at Staten Island Zoo where on February 2, the groundhog comes out of the burrow all day and the ceremony is open for all.

As it looks at its own shadow it indicates the continuation of cold dry winters while if there is an umbrella of clouds, it stays outside predicting the arrival of spring. The behavior of this intelligent rodent helps in predicting the waning of winter or the onset of spring. I find this phenomenon fascinating.

Last evening as I was sitting with Fred, my retired, reformist friend, at the pub, he enlightened me with his perspective of the Groundhog Day which was rather unique and interesting. It gave me a new insight.

Fred said, “You know Bob this day reminds me of my lonely days, I emerged from my coldness only to find my own shadow which was as solitary as my pride, my seasons never changed till I transcended my attitude and eventually, I made great friends who enveloped me in love and warmth. More I open myself to camaraderie, the springtime of my life continues.”

The only prerequisite for long-lasting happiness is to stop walking in your own shadow. We are the weather prophets of our life. So pause and reflect, are you warm or cold today?